When creating documents in Microsoft Word, there may be times that want to place text in an exact position on the page, and perhaps enable your text to flow from one place to another. A classic example would be when creating a newsletter or article. Just the thought of doing this can strike panic into a VA with thoughts of “this is going to be difficult” or ‘Help! I’m not a graphic designer!” – but fear not! Creating an article template for your clients to use really doesn’t need to be a cause for panic and here’s how to do it easily using just a few simple text boxes.

The idea here is that we will position a number of individual text boxes on the page, and place them at fixed positions, to allow space for images or graphics inserted around them. We are then able to connect these text boxes together so that the words flow from one text box to another, automatically flowing to the next connected element and adjusting the text in each box accordingly as it changes. This eliminates the need for you to fiddle around changing font sizes or having to manually paste the content into each box (and redo it every time the content is edited!). What’s great is that if you edit, add or delete a text box, Word will automatically move the text for you.

Create your article template

The easiest way to start is often to use one of the pre designed templates from Microsoft Word, there are many available. So if you are worried that your creative skills aren’t up to scratch, this is a great place to start, or even a great place to browse through for ideas on layout etc. Alternatively if you are feeling brave, you can start with a blank page.

So I started by creating the template below. Put together in just a few minutes:

Add a header

Insert a rectangular banner or image at the top of the page. You will need to prepare your image or banner beforehand or you can use the edit functions in Word to do this. Choose Insert > Picture and browse to your image. Click OK to insert it.

Your image will appear on the page, and perhaps need to be repositioned. Before attempting this, right click on the image and choose Format Picture > Layout > Advanced.

In the resulting box, you have two tabs, first click ‘Position’ tab to set the position of this image on your page:

  1. Under Horizontal settings choose ‘Absolute Position’ and set it to 1cm to the right of Page
  2. Under vertical settings choose ‘Absolute Position’ and set it to 1cm below Page
  3. Tick the options for allow overlap and placeholder
  4. Ensure the box for ‘Move object with text’ is unchecked

Word Article 1

Next click the tab for ‘Text Wrapping’ and click the option for ‘In front of text’.

This will now position your header in a fixed location on your page and ensure it doesn’t move around as you are working on the rest of your article. To change the picture in future, simply right click on the image and choose ‘Change Picture’ to browse to a new picture and change it, without changing the size and position of your header image – this makes creating future articles dead easy!

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Note: if you want to position the header closer/further away from the margins or in a different place, you can now click and drag the box to move it, or repeat the steps above and play with the horizontal and vertical positioning to place it elsewhere on the page

Add your text boxes

Next we want to create a layout with a sidebar  and two columns of text, with  a couple of pictures in there too. We’ll add and position these in exactly the same way as we did our header image.

Click Insert > Text Box. You’ll then be able to draw your text box directly onto the page in the rough position that you want it to be (don’t worry, you can move it afterwards!)  We’re then going to position it in exactly the same way as we did with our header image:

Right click on the text box and choose Format Shape > Layout > Advanced.

Under ‘Position’ tab to set the position of this image on your page:

  1. Under Horizontal settings choose ‘Absolute Position’ and set it to 1cm to the right of Page
  2. Under vertical settings choose ‘Absolute Position’ and set it to 8cm below Page
  3. Tick the option for allow overlap, leave all others unchecked
  4. Ensure the box for ‘Move object with text’ is unchecked – this important to stop the text box moving as you edit the document

As before, under ‘Text Wrapping’  click the option for ‘In front of text’ then click OK.

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Note: The same as for your header, you can edit the horizontal and vertical positioning to place the text box anywhere on your page. It’s sometimes a case of trial and error until you get it right.

If you want to, you can then edit the background colour or outline of your text box to make your sidebar stand out.

When you are happy with your side bar, repeat the processes above to add another 2 text boxes and 2 pictures, to match your desired layout. Remember to alway set the positioning to absolute and text wrapping to in front of text and do not move with text to ensure you don’t struggle with editing your document. When you are done, you’ll have an article template that looks something like this:

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Add your content

So now you have your template, the finishing touch is to add your text.

Your text boxes work just the way any normal text box would, you can edit the contents, change the font, formatting and colours just as you would normally. There’s so much you can do – you’re only limited by your imagination! Try adding some content to your side bar, you can type this straight in, or copy and paste from elsewhere.

Next, you want to add your article content, but before doing so, we need to link up the text boxes so that the words flow between them. To to do this. we create a link between the text boxes.

1. Click on your first text box. Then under under Drawing Tools > Format tab > Text group choose Create Link 

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2. You’ll then see your cursor change to a small ‘jug’ icon. Move the jog to the text box that you want to link to, and click on it. Word immediately creates the link and you’re good to go.

3. You can repeat this process as many times as needed to link multiple text boxes

4. If you want to break a link, simply click onto a linked text box and Drawing Tools > Format tab > Text group choose Break Link 

As a final step, simple copy and paste or type in the content for your article, and watch as the text magically flows from one text box to another. You now have a template that can reused over and over simply by changing the pictures and the content as necessary!

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